Which Guitar Should I Start With?
Updated: Oct 27
In this article we’re going to look at the common misconception of an acoustic guitar being easier to play and why you should probably look at an electric or a nylon string when you’re starting out.
Everything here assumes that each guitar has been correctly set up for ease of playing. Let me say that again; everything here assumes that each guitar has been correctly set up for ease of playing.
That’s important because it can be all too easy to blame the guitar when it is in fact a guitar that has been badly set up.
The Three Main Types of Guitar
The three main types of guitar are as follows:
Electric Guitar (which has steel strings)
Acoustic Guitar (which has steel strings)
Classical Guitar (which has nylon strings)
These are often seen as the more simple option because of the style of music that is stereotypically associated with them.
For example, some country artist strumming lovely sounding chords in a field... or something.
However, they can be a little tricky for beginners in terms of ease of use. Firstly, the string height tends to be a little higher so they’re harder to push down.
Another drawback is that they often tend to be quite bulky which can make them hard to hold on your lap or stand up with.
However, a huge positive is that they can be a bit cheaper and you don’t need an amplifier to use them to their full potential.
This guitar is heavily associated with rock music. Bands like Muse, Guns N Roses, Led Zeppelin, Oasis, Stereophonics and many, many more. They’re electric because you can plug them into an amplifier and make them loud.
They’re not all that loud without an amp. Then once plugged in you’re able to add all sorts of effects and have a lot of fun making different sounds.
For beginners these are a decent choice because providing they have been correctly set up, the height of the strings will be quite low which means you don’t have to put as much effort into pushing them down to make a good sound.
Another benefit is that they’re generally quite slim in terms of their size so they’re not too cumbersome when they’re sitting on your lap.
However, one drawback is that the strings are steel so there will be a little wear and tear on the fingertips as you build calluses. Another is that to get a good one, you’d be looking at spending more money than you would on an acoustic or classical. You also have to pay for an amp.
Here’s a great option for beginners on a budget.
Now you might be fooled into thinking the above picture is a standard acoustic guitar like the picture above but this one actually has softer, nylon strings (nylon is a type of plastic).
The nylon string ‘classical guitar’.
It’s called a classical guitar because that’s the style of music that it’s most commonly associated with but they’re also common in flamenco and used in rock, pop, Latin, jazz and other genres.
The fact that the strings are made of nylon make them easier to press down and less abrasive on the fingertips. There’s always going to be some sort of discomfort or weird sensation but nylon strings definitely lessen that discomfort.
Another plus point is that at least in my experience, even some of the lower end ones will hold their tuning well. They’re also cheaper than an electric guitar. And the strings last a really long time. Acoustic and electric strings a liable to break after a while (depending on frequently you play of course).
The full size ones are as bulky as a standard acoustic guitar but you could offset this with a ¾ size just for a while until you get used to it and then upgrade to a full size after 6 months.
If you’re a beginner on a budget then start with a classical guitar and it’ll be a bit easier on the fingers. If you can afford one and you’re into rock music or any music that uses an electric guitar then of course, get one of those. If you have an explicit interest in the sound of an acoustic guitar then I’d still recommend a classical initially to make the beginning of the process a bit easier and upgrading later as you start to pick things up.
Just one last thing to mention. Please, please, please...
Do. Not. Buy. Cheap!
Cheap guitars can be a disaster and make something that is already a challenge, even more difficult. It needs to be easy to play and it needs to stay in tune, those things should be your priority second to the price.
Your best bet is to go to the guitar shop with someone you trust that already plays and they’ll be able to advise you and stop you picking something that will hold you back in your guitar journey.
About The Author
Aaron Carrington is the owner of Carrington Guitar Academy in Bath, UK. Since graduating from The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance in London. Aaron has played in high profile locations such as Buckingham Palace, The Savoy and The London Eye.
He’s been a regular part of the UK wedding and corporate gig scene and has travelled internationally to the Middle East to play in top quality residency bands 6 nights per week. The finesse gained from this level of playing experience is passed on to his guitar students.
Now permanently in Bath, Aaron strives to deliver the highest standards of guitar teaching at Carrington Guitar Academy by offering a personalized lesson plan tailored to each student’s goals. You may also catch Aaron busking regularly on the streets of Bath. If you're interested in guitar lessons get in touch to book a FREE trial lesson!